GLENCORE has thrown its weight behind an alliance aimed at supporting small-scale suppliers of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said the Financial Times citing an announcement by the mining and commodities marketing firm.
Glencore, which this year struck a deal to supply Tesla with cobalt, believes the launch of the Fair Cobalt Alliance will encourage carmakers to use Congolese cobalt in their batteries rather than engineering it out, said the newspaper.
The alliance aims to eradicate child labour from mining sites and improve working conditions, as well as support educational opportunities in the DRC. It is also backed by Huayou Cobalt, China’s largest cobalt refiner, which supplies carmakers including Volvo Cars and Volkswagen.
“Where we find environmental, social or labour problems in supply chains, we should not avoid them, we should not disengage, but rather it is our duty to take action and make improvements,” said Assheton Carter, executive director of the Fair Cobalt Alliance.
“Responsible industrial and artisanal mining both play a critical role in the DRC’s economy, as well as providing consumers with the battery minerals needed to power a greener economy,” said David Brocas, chairman of the Cobalt Institute and lead trader of cobalt at Glencore. “The FCA is a vehicle for businesses all along the supply chain to collaborate with the DRC government and civil society to transform the artisanal mining sector into a source of fair, safe and responsibly mined cobalt,” he said.
The DRC supplies 6o% of the world’s cobalt, a key raw material in batteries, but more than 10% comes from informal miners digging by hand, including children, said the Financial Times. Last year, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla were sued by a human rights group on behalf of families of children killed or injured while mining cobalt in the DRC.